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Aenno

About game balance

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That's how we were always doing it as well.

 

Of course, because it is arbitrary, there can always be that lingering feeling that someone is getting unintentionally advantaged or disadvantaged, because the GM either lets them move too quick or too slow in their narrative approach to this part of combat. Fortunately, it's something that rarely actually springs to mind because everyone is more focused on pulling triggers and slitting throats.

 

Although there was that one time years ago when I played a DH1 Assassin that I felt I wouldn't actually get to make the most out of my character, simply because several of the Talents were relying on friggin' maps with accurate distance measurement.

 

In a way, it's almost the same problem with cover, although this is a lot easier to wing via houserules such as letting people do Perception or Agility rolls to check what sort of cover they manage to find in the heat of combat (and depending on the current environment, of course).

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@Olifant

That's not the GMs job, it's the game itselfs job. The rules should tell you what kind of play the game is designed for and how to run and use the mechanics. It shouldn't be the GMs job to eyeball things as they relate to the mechanics.

 

You are not wrong but I simply do not see any RPG's goal is to be a balanced competitive game. I find circumstance and plot to be far more important factors for any challenge or scenario than balancing things. For me, it is simply a tool used to tell an interactive and engaging story. But as CPS pointed out, its true it is not the job of a GM to balance a game. Dark Heresy 2.0 is far from perfect and I do have quite a few issues with certain rule changes and functions, but I work with what I have. It is the job of a GM to make a fun and entertaining experience. 

 

I also fear I did not convey what I meant as I agree with both of you, the game is unbalanced and it is not perfect. But I feel the concept of game balance is simply the wrong thought process to be bringing to the table. It is very rare that any of my player try to kill each other. It happened once because one player turned into a deamon host and he killed the whole party. Wasn't balanced at all, but it is still one of the most talked about and amusing experiences we have had yet. I suppose I am trying to say, if you are trying to make the game balanced, you aren't trying to make it interesting or challenging. As a player, you should be role playing, not min-maxing. As a GM you should be story telling and being engaging, not trying to create a formula to insert your players into.

 

Again, there is no right or wrong, on how to go about this discussion, simply peoples diffrent playstyles.

Edited by Olifant

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When we talk about "balance" we're not talking about party-GM balance, as the GM can throw as few or as many challenges at the players as they wish. We're instead talking about intra-party balance, about one person potentially stepping on another, and at that sometimes without realizing it.

 

Balance isn't about competition - it's about everyone being able to contribute to the same degree, or at least to a sufficiently similar degree. Balance is also not about making everyone the same, but about giving everyone capabilities at the same amortized level of usefulness. (Consider the inner working of competitive card games - there are a lot of different things you can do and still be tournament viable in Magic and Netrunner, for instance.) And note that I said amortized, aka averaged, there. Variance is fine, so long as the game is up front about it and so long as the design isn't actively trying to fight that variance.

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When we talk about "balance" we're not talking about party-GM balance, as the GM can throw as few or as many challenges at the players as they wish. We're instead talking about intra-party balance, about one person potentially stepping on another, and at that sometimes without realizing it.

 

Balance isn't about competition - it's about everyone being able to contribute to the same degree, or at least to a sufficiently similar degree. Balance is also not about making everyone the same, but about giving everyone capabilities at the same amortized level of usefulness. (Consider the inner working of competitive card games - there are a lot of different things you can do and still be tournament viable in Magic and Netrunner, for instance.) And note that I said amortized, aka averaged, there. Variance is fine, so long as the game is up front about it and so long as the design isn't actively trying to fight that variance.

 

Maybe I am interpreting this wrong. But wouldn't that just be a moot point since they now have a soft class system where everyone can take anything just at higher costs? That would imply, the players are just not communicating at maximizing their effectiveness with character upgrades. The only real class system they have now is Psykers and Blanks.

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The fact that players should be "optimizing" or "maximizing effectiveness" means that the game is only balanced if people are min/maxing, which is not and should not be the default mode of play. If someone wants to take a Trade skill or talents that may not fit their role, that just means less XP for an "optimised" build and thus less effectiveness in the group. it shouldn't be a choice between being ineffectual and being the character you want to be. 

 

Even still, some roles or builds are head and shoulders above others. Any character that has a great Agility, Dodge, and Stealth will be nigh-impossible to hit, versus someone who tries to focus more on shooting big guns and taking more hits. 

 

If every player's first move as a character is to focus solely on Agility and Dodge, that should tell you about the power of that Characteristic/Skill, and the irrelevance of others. 

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When we talk about "balance" we're not talking about party-GM balance, as the GM can throw as few or as many challenges at the players as they wish. We're instead talking about intra-party balance, about one person potentially stepping on another, and at that sometimes without realizing it.

 

Balance isn't about competition - it's about everyone being able to contribute to the same degree, or at least to a sufficiently similar degree. Balance is also not about making everyone the same, but about giving everyone capabilities at the same amortized level of usefulness. (Consider the inner working of competitive card games - there are a lot of different things you can do and still be tournament viable in Magic and Netrunner, for instance.) And note that I said amortized, aka averaged, there. Variance is fine, so long as the game is up front about it and so long as the design isn't actively trying to fight that variance.

 

Maybe I am interpreting this wrong. But wouldn't that just be a moot point since they now have a soft class system where everyone can take anything just at higher costs? That would imply, the players are just not communicating at maximizing their effectiveness with character upgrades. The only real class system they have now is Psykers and Blanks.

 

Any character with Enough XP can buy every ability in the game. But of course (barring extreme circumstances) no one will actually have Enough XP. See, say that two people both have the same concept in mind, which involves a certain Set S of chosen abilities. Person 1 book-dives and figures out the optimal set of aptitudes in order to minimize XP spent on acquiring the components of S. Person 2, in contrast, is unfamiliar with the game and thus very likely must spend more XP to release the same concept that requires S.

 

Can they both achieve S? Yes. But at the moment Person 1 achieves S, then Person 2 has fewer abilities than Person 1 despite the two having spent the same quantity of XP. And at the moment Person 2 achieves S, Person 1 has spent some excess XP on additional abilities. In either case, despite both having attempted the same concept, Person 1 has more abilities than Person 2 solely as a result of differences in system mastery. That's the issue at hand with aptitudes, that such a large variance exists on account of subtleties in the rules. (This wouldn't be such a problem if the cost differences between having 0/1/2 aptitudes weren't so great.)

 

Mind you, all of the above relies on the assumption that the PCs each receive (roughly) equal amounts of XP. But it's safe to say that such is a design assumption in the vast majority of TRPGs, including the 40K RPGs.

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ow are you able to differentiate the movement speeds of an agility 3 versus agility 4 character each round the two of them move and do so in a consistent and non arbitrary manner? 

 

You have the rate of movement on the character sheet, depending on the agility bonus. Unless you are not visual at all, it is pretty clear the distance they cover in a turn and this, depending on what kind of movevement they do.

 

 

 

he trick is to do it in an eyeballed, arbitrary manner.

 

As much as any other rules use in any other game, then.

 

 

When its clear the room is 30 meters long, you know very well how many turns it will take to go through it depending on the movement rate of the character. A map is just a tool to visualise things. It does not make the rules working. 

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Any character with Enough XP can buy every ability in the game. 

 

Two problems here:

 

1: It's not actually true -- there are abilities that are unique to certain archetypes, be them a Psyker, a Tech-Priest, a Sororitas, Inquisitor, Space Marine, and so on. The tricky thing here would be to ensure that these abilities are thematically fitting and a good representation of what makes the background special, as well as still preventing them from nullifying any alternatives, meaning similarly focused characters' approaches with different abilities for the same problem.

 

2: Two characters buying the same stuff would, of course, be pretty bland/boring. Variance is key, unless the concepts are really that similar that they justify nigh-identical builds (like, say, a pair of Assassin-Twins). Thus, the system should ideally endeavour to make different approaches to the same problem similarly interesting, providing different advantages or drawbacks each. Remarkably, most of the Talents do seem to fulfil this requirement, but there are exceptions. I think the actual issue lies a bit deeper, at the core mechanics of the system. Dodging being so important yet also easy to master is one of them -- I feel it should be more like an "easy to learn, hard to master" thing where you'd have to sacrifice a lot more elsewhere in your build to attain higher Ranks.

 

I don't see any problem with Aptitudes here, though. The group and GM can easily talk each others' concepts through and give advice (I know InquisitorAlexel does this quite well), preventing "system mastery" from being any factor at all.

 

Much more problematic is what cpteveros mentioned: Some Talents or Skills are very atmospheric, but not very valuable mechanically, often forcing players to choose between their concept (roleplaying) and minmaxing the crunch (rollplaying). Perhaps the game should offer more of the less useful stuff for free, a la Shadowrun with its Knowledge Skills?

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Oh, I doubt that in most cases two people will have the same concept at the same time in a campaign. The point was more that differences in system mastery, applied solely at character creation, can manifest as large differences in character capacity over the course of the game. Sure, you can have the GM helping folks out to smooth things along. But that doesn't actually remove the system mastery inherent, but rather just requires that the GM has it as well.

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ow are you able to differentiate the movement speeds of an agility 3 versus agility 4 character each round the two of them move and do so in a consistent and non arbitrary manner?

You have the rate of movement on the character sheet, depending on the agility bonus. Unless you are not visual at all, it is pretty clear the distance they cover in a turn and this, depending on what kind of movevement they do.

he trick is to do it in an eyeballed, arbitrary manner.

As much as any other rules use in any other game, then.

When its clear the room is 30 meters long, you know very well how many turns it will take to go through it depending on the movement rate of the character. A map is just a tool to visualise things. It does not make the rules working.

So you keep track of "npc a moved 6 meters, npc b moved 6 meters to the let, npc c moved up a ladder, as well as every player moving different directions and you base it all on the parameters of the room established at the beginning of combat? Or is it more likely that you make up a distance only when a player asks about it and thus the whole thing is arbitrary?

Also, "if you are visual at all." That is the point, you're saying not to use a visual that is basically required for the human mind to picture all the possible movement available. I'm saying that it's impossible for someone to keep track of relative distances in a consistent way without using a map or grid.

Here's an example.

Players start out in a 30 meter square room. Player 1 wants to know if he's close enough to the couch in the corner and is told its 6 meters so he can reach it. NPC one in another corner moves toward player A starting from the opposite corner. How far is he? I dunno, what's the diagonal length of a 30 meter square? Get your Pythagorean theorem out I guess. NPC two wants to move to cover in the center of the room. Well, half of 30 is 15 so I guess he can't make it in one turn. But is he starting from the center of a wall or closer to a corner, because that could increase the distance. Now NPC one wants to go for that cover on his next turn. Did we assume a straight line? How close is he to that cover? More math to do.

I don't understand how anyone could keep track of that mess, and none of it is really that irrelevant in the context of the game. If you track movement down to the single meter, you need to track distances the same way as well. In order to track distances, you need a map. This is the same as if you track the number of bullets in each type of attack down to the single bullet, you need to track magazine capacity in the same way. You can't have one hyper detailed rule and then have its application be overly abstract (this is also a problem RAW with the subtlety rules).

Edited by Nimsim

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I don't understand how anyone could keep track of that mess, and none of it is really that irrelevant in the context of the game. If you track movement down to the single meter, you need to track distances the same way as well. In order to track distances, you need a map. 

 

Something I thought about was just "streamlining" distances into nine fixed zones corresponding to left flank, right flank, middle + three range modifiers. For example, if two opposing characters are in the same zone, they're always considered to be in short range. If they are one zone apart, they are at medium range. If there's an entire zone between them, long range. Extreme range would be limited to narrative combat (sniper) or at the start of the encounter; point blank would happen only if two characters are in direct contact with one another (basically an extra move after you've already entered their zone).

 

Unfortunately, it's a pretty fundamental change to the game mechanics. All weapons now having the same range isn't much of a problem (I could just bake different modifiers into the gun profile, like "this gun modifies BS by -X if used at long range", which comes with the added benefit of doing away with a separate range modifier table), but I have no idea how to deal with different movement speeds. Taking more or fewer turns to change from one zone to another sounds like the best approach, but it could be very clunky to keep track of.

 

The biggest downside is that it'd make encounters feel very "level-based" as the area is split into nine fixed zones ... on the other hand, hopefully this would only be apparent in edge cases such as a pursuit, plus you essentially have the same problem if you're using maps.

Edited by Lynata

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So you keep track of "npc a moved 6 meters, npc b moved 6 meters to the let, npc c moved up a ladder, as well as every player moving different directions and you base it all on the parameters of the room established at the beginning of combat? Or is it more likely that you make up a distance only when a player asks about it and thus the whole thing is arbitrary?

 

I must admit I partially do. I mean that when we are in structured time (combat), I do. When we are in narrative time, I don't, but it is sure that a faster character (exemple of a Ag bonus of 6 in contrast to one of 3), can arrive faster. I say can, because generally, even when people walk faster than others, they tend to walk together. When they decide not too, then I'll check the differences and analyse what change it would do in real life. If someone walk 2X the speed of someone else, then he will cover one KM while the other does the half.

 

 

 

Uhh, have you played other games?

 

Yope. DnD 3, DnD 3,5, DnD 4, Pathfinder, TORG, Call of Cthlhu, Exalted and others that I don't happen to remember the names. I also played the not D100 version of warhammer fantasy roleplay (don't remember the number of that version) I didn't play much of any of those, I preferred DH.

 

My point is, you've got a GM behind a screen (or not), and he masters the game. Whatever the map, the stats and such, this is always interpretation, that must be close to each one's interpretation. There will always be people to say that something ain't fitting with the rules or not. In the end, you can say if the rules are applied and do what they where mean't to do, or not. 

 

Movement rate, range of weapons and such are meant to do exactly that: tell the rate of movement or the range of weapon. If you use them and prepare your battlefield in accordance, you use the rules. The amount of precision and moth-f*cking you want to put in is but a choice of yours. Never needed a map to use these and it never broke the game.

 

it's the same as carrying capacities, pushing capacities, etc. I read those, it give me an idea and it serves its purpose. But we don't each gram to see if its fit. We don't need to go there, no situation needs it (at the moment).

Edited by InquisitorAlexel

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So you keep track of "npc a moved 6 meters, npc b moved 6 meters to the let, npc c moved up a ladder, as well as every player moving different directions and you base it all on the parameters of the room established at the beginning of combat? Or is it more likely that you make up a distance only when a player asks about it and thus the whole thing is arbitrary?

 

I must admit I partially do. I mean that when we are in structured time (combat), I do. When we are in narrative time, I don't, but it is sure that a faster character (exemple of a Ag bonus of 6 in contrast to one of 3), can arrive faster. I say can, because generally, even when people walk faster than others, they tend to walk together. When they decide not too, then I'll check the differences and analyse what change it would do in real life. If someone walk 2X the speed of someone else, then he will cover one KM while the other does the half.

 

 

 

Uhh, have you played other games?

 

Yope. DnD 3, DnD 3,5, DnD 4, Pathfinder, TORG, Call of Cthlhu, Exalted and others that I don't happen to remember the names. I also played the not D100 version of warhammer fantasy roleplay (don't remember the number of that version) I didn't play much of any of those, I preferred DH.

 

My point is, you've got a GM behind a screen (or not), and he masters the game. Whatever the map, the stats and such, this is always interpretation, that must be close to each one's interpretation. There will always be people to say that something ain't fitting with the rules or not. In the end, you can say if the rules are applied and do what they where mean't to do, or not. 

 

Movement rate, range of weapons and such are meant to do exactly that: tell the rate of movement or the range of weapon. If you use them and prepare your battlefield in accordance, you use the rules. The amount of precision and moth-f*cking you want to put in is but a choice of yours. Never needed a map to use these and it never broke the game.

 

it's the same as carrying capacities, pushing capacities, etc. I read those, it give me an idea and it serves its purpose. But we don't each gram to see if its fit. We don't need to go there, no situation needs it (at the moment).

I still want to know how you keep track of those things without a map. Do you state everything to begin with and somehow remember it all, or do you just make up distances as you go?

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We give distances pre-fight in every system, without a bloody map. Even in Shadowrun. It's only a problem when movement rates don't match IRL movement rates, which is why we change them accordingly. For example, the typical DH2e cast of characters would, realistically, belong in a nursing home or be a bunch of paraplegics.

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We give distances pre-fight in every system, without a bloody map. Even in Shadowrun. It's only a problem when movement rates don't match IRL movement rates, which is why we change them accordingly. For example, the typical DH2e cast of characters would, realistically, belong in a nursing home or be a bunch of paraplegics.

How do you keep track of the relative distances of moving characters to each other, though?

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By not failing at first grade levels of math.

You start in a 30 meter square room with a piece of cover right in the middle, another piece of cover on the south wall 5 meters from the east wall. Player one starts at south west corner. NPC 1 starts at middle of north wall. NPC 2 starts on north wall 11 meters from west wall.

On player ones turn, he runs over to the southeast cover for let's say 10 meters. How many meters is he now from NPC 1 and 2 to run over to engage him?

Demonstrate how you'll calculate that using first grade math (no trig or geometry) in a reasonable amount of time, say, the 10 seconds most other math in the game will take.

Also, please show your work.

Edited by Nimsim

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By not failing at first grade levels of math.

You start in a 30 meter square room with a piece of cover right in the middle, another piece of cover on the south wall 5 meters from the east wall. Player one starts at south west corner. NPC 1 starts at middle of north wall. NPC 2 starts on north wall 11 meters from west wall.

On player ones turn, he runs over to the southeast cover for let's say 10 meters. How many meters is he now from NPC 1 and 2 to run over to engage him?

Demonstrate how you'll calculate that using first grade math (no trig or geometry) in a reasonable amount of time, say, the 10 seconds most other math in the game will take.

Also, please show your work.

 

You give the distance to the players, not to the ******* wall. Stop being deliberately obtuse.

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By not failing at first grade levels of math.

You start in a 30 meter square room with a piece of cover right in the middle, another piece of cover on the south wall 5 meters from the east wall. Player one starts at south west corner. NPC 1 starts at middle of north wall. NPC 2 starts on north wall 11 meters from west wall.

On player ones turn, he runs over to the southeast cover for let's say 10 meters. How many meters is he now from NPC 1 and 2 to run over to engage him?

Demonstrate how you'll calculate that using first grade math (no trig or geometry) in a reasonable amount of time, say, the 10 seconds most other math in the game will take.

Also, please show your work.

You give the distance to the players, not to the ******* wall. Stop being deliberately obtuse.

So instead you would have the same room. You'd say that the southeast cover is 25 meters from player one. You'd apparently make up a number and say it's 35 meters from NPC 1 and 38 meters from NPC 2. Player 1 moves 10 meters toward the cover. How many meters is he now from each NPC?

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You're not doing yourself any favours by phrasing things in a deliberately confusing manner that is aimed towards supporting your fever dream that you absolutely need a sodding map for every little encounter.

 

"You arrive in a large room. There's a desk in the middle, occupied by a suddenly very frightened scribe and two cultists on the other end, opposite you, flanking a door. As the clerk scuttles under the desk, the cultists go for their guns. They are 30m away from you. The desk is 15m."

 

If you can't act in this scenario, stop playing games.

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Nimsim isn't being obtuse. The point is that even if you consider a flat plain in two dimensions, relative distances become unpredictable once you start moving in ways that aren't just directly towards or away from each other. Throw in three dimensions and things become even more unpredictable. And what if you start throwing in terrain and obstacles? You might be ten feet from an opponent as the crow flies, but if a wall separates the two of you then the effective distance between you is much greater. (Hence the mention of Dijkstra's Algorithm.)

 

I will note that games exist that do abstract ranges and areas in various ways. Fate just establishes abstracted zones that you can move between, but moving more than one on your turn requires effort. 13th Age has the melee/near/far trichotomy, and moving one step between these requires about half your turn. But games like D&D (all editions) and the 40K RPGs are designed to use exact distances, so while you can abstract things the system won't help you on such an occasion.

 

^^Edit: This is the simplest possible two-dimensional scenario, and in fact it is one of the few in which the math will stay predictable without a calculator on hand. What Nimsim presented could perhaps use a touch of editing, but is far more likely to occur in practice if you want to make combat interesting and not just a roll-off.

Edited by NFK

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You're not doing yourself any favours by phrasing things in a deliberately confusing manner that is aimed towards supporting your fever dream that you absolutely need a sodding map for every little encounter.

 

"You arrive in a large room. There's a desk in the middle, occupied by a suddenly very frightened scribe and two cultists on the other end, opposite you, flanking a door. As the clerk scuttles under the desk, the cultists go for their guns. They are 30m away from you. The desk is 15m."

 

If you can't act in this scenario, stop playing games.

You've created a room that acts as a flat line with PC---15m---desk---15m---NPCs. You've not added anything to the room that is not on this 30m line. Once you do so, and once someone moves outside of that line, you can no longer track it.

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